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Bargain Bordeaux Wine

April 28, 2015
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Walking through three centuries of epic history – along the southeast facing entrance to La Citadelle

For a mere eight Euros (or a little below nine US dollars, at the current exchange rate), I recently sampled dozens of wines within an ancient fortress in the southwest of France. In the 17th century King Louis XlV commissioned the military architect Vauban to construct a defense fortification within the city of Blaye (pronounced ‘bl-EYE’). This formed one of twelve strategic works Vauban constructed throughout France. The sprawling ‘La Citadelle’ structure housed a defense garrison poised to fight invaders, or patrol against pirates sailing the turbulent, wide waters of the Gironde estuary.


Today, the massive Citadelle complex includes remnants of an ancient prison and water wells, as well as a functioning vineyard. This recent Printemps des Vins de Blaye – Spring Wines of Blaye – showcased wines from 80 winemakers –vignerons – from a total of 700 who produce wine for the appellation Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This 600 hectare (15,000 acre) wine growing region perches north and east of the city of Bordeaux along the banks of the wide, island-dotted, waters of the Gironde.

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The definitive sign that spring has hit Bordeaux

Soils here include mostly clay and limestone. Unlike the predominantly gravel soils on the west bank of the Gironde (which favor Cabernet Sauvignon), the more abundant clays along the east bank retain moisture and coolness, favoring the Merlot grape. Red wines in the Blaye appellation are generally based on Merlot blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and sometimes Petit Verdot.

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Colors and creation as backdrop to well-crafted wines

IMG_2346DSC_9420DSC_9410IMG_2342This annual event included food halls, musicians, and workshops/exhibits – including a cooper toasting wood staves and shaping wine barrels. Most Blaye wines are extremely good. Some are truly excellent. Most wines from this appellation are a bargain for their price.

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Defense point for Europe’s largest estuary

Value scores in the table below were generated by the proprietary Vino ValueTM algorithm*, and are for red wines only.

Wine Retail Price – Euros Retail Price – US dollars equivalent Value Score
Chateau Moulin de Prade 2009 € 5.50 $6.03 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Mondésir-Gazin 2011 € 14.00 $15.35 Good Value ♫
Château Marquis de Vauban La Cuvée du Roy € 17.00 $18.64 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château le Cône 2010 Monarque € 14.50 $15.90 Good Value ♫
Château Magdeleine Bouhou 2012 € 5.50 $6.03 Good Value ♫
Château Magdeleine Bouhou 2011 € 6.50 $7.13 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château L’Espérance 2010 Cuvée Trois Fréres € 15.00 $16.45 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Les Millards 2010 € 5.50 $6.03 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Les Millards 2010 Cuvée Prestige € 15.00 $16.45 Good Value ♫
Château Nodot 2007 € 6.50 $7.13 Good Value ♫
Château Nodot 2010 € 9.50 $10.42 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Les Margagnis 2011 € 5.50 $6.03 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Les Margagnis 2012 € 6.50 $7.13 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Les Chaumes 2006 € 8.00 $8.77 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Les Chaumes L’Impertenente 2014 € 6.80 $7.46 Good Value ♫
Château La Cassagne-Boutet 2011 € 12.00 $13.16 Good Value ♫
Château La Cassagne-Boutet 2012 € 12.00 $13.16 Excellent Value ♫♫
La Cassagne – Les Angeles 2012 € 20.00 $21.93 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château La Brettonnière 2010 Excellence € 9.00 $9.87 Good Value ♫
Château La Brettonnière 2010 Stéphanie Heurlier € 12.50 $13.71 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Tour-Saint-Germaine 2010 € 8.50 $9.32 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Tour-Saint-Germaine 2012 € 15.00 $16.45 Good Value ♫
Château Vieux Planty 2011 Prestige € 5.90 $6.47 Good Value ♫
Château Vieux Planty 2011 Prélude € 7.50 $8.23 Good Value ♫
Domaine du Casssard 2011 € 6.10 $6.69 Good Value ♫
Domaine du Casssard 2013 € 5.50 $6.03 Excellent Value ♫♫
Domaine du Cassard Prestige 2012 € 8.20 $8.99 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Crusquet De Lagarcie 2012 € 7.50 $8.23 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Berthenon 2010 Cuvée Henri € 7.50 $8.23 Good Value ♫
Château Berthenon 2012 Cuvée Chloé € 14.50 $15.90 Good Value ♫
Domaine Maison De La Reine 2012 € 6.70 $7.35 Excellent Value ♫♫
Domaine Maison De La Reine 2012 Cuvée Expression € 12.80 $14.04 Good Value ♫
Château Le Chay 2010 € 7.45 $8.17 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Le Chay 2012 € 7.15 $7.84 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Peyreyie 2010 € 5.80 $6.36 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Peyreyie 2011 € 5.90 $6.47 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Les Jonqueyres 2012 € 16.00 $17.55 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Des Tourtes 2010 € 8.50 $9.32 Good Value ♫
Château Des Tourtes 2012 L’Attribut € 8.20 $8.99 Good Value ♫
Château Les Taillou 2012 € 4.90 $5.37 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Les Carreyes 2013 € 5.90 $6.47 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Canteloup 2012 € 5.50 $6.03 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Grand Renard 2012 Cuvée Prestige € 6.00 $6.58 Good Value ♫
Château La Levrette 2009 € 14.00 $15.35 Good Value ♫
Château Bellevue-Gazin 2005 – Les Barronets € 7.50 $8.23 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Bel-Air La Royére 2012 L’Espirit € 12.00 $13.16 Excellent Value ♫
Château Bel-Air La Royére 2012 € 22.00 $24.13 Good Value ♫
Château Bois-Vert 2010 Cuvée Prestige € 8.50 $9.32 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Bois-Vert 2009 La Confídence € 14.40 $15.79 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Frédignac 2011 Terroir € 6.80 $7.46 Good Value ♫
Château Frédignac 2012 La Favorite € 8.50 $9.32 Good Value ♫
Château La Motte 2006 € 10.50 $11.52 Good Value ♫
Château La Motte 2012 € 5.75 $6.31 Excellent Value ♫♫
Chateau La Rose Bellevue 2012 Prestige € 8.00 $8.77 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Puynard 2012 € 6.00 $6.58 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Puynard 2011 Le Chéne € 8.00 $8.77 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Lagarde 2011 Excellence € 10.20 $11.19 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château L’Escadre 2009 Tradition € 6.30 $6.91 Good Value ♫
Château L’Escadre 2008 Major € 15.70 $17.22 Good Value ♫
Château Les Petits Arnauds 2010 Excellence € 7.30 $8.01 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Haut Colombier 2008 € 13.00 (Magnum) $14.26 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Haut Colombier 2007 € 8.00 $8.77 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Haut Colombier 2009 € 11.00 $12.06 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Morange 2009 Le Vin D’Augustin Morange € 9.50 $10.42 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Les Bertrands 2012 € 6.00 $6.58 Good Value ♫
Château Les Bertrands 2012 Cuvée Prestige € 8.00 $8.77 Excellent Value ♫
Château Les Bertrands 2010 Nectar de Bertrands € 16.00 $17.55 Good Value ♫
Les Vignerons de Tutiac 2012 Selection € 5.75 $6.31 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château L’haur du Chay 2013 Cuvée Tradition € 7.00 $7.68 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château L’haur du Chay 2012 € 8.00 $8.77 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Haut La Valette 2012 € 4.50 $4.94 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Haut La Valette 2012 Distinction € 6.10 $6.69 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Haut La Valette 2013 Distinction € 6.30 $6.91 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Larrat 2012 € 5.50 $6.03 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Larrat 2013 € 6.20 $6.80 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Larrat 2010 € 7.00 $7.68 Good Value ♫
Château Moulin de Grillet 2010 € 6.70 $7.35 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Moulin de Grillet 2010 Les Aisles € 11.50 $12.61 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château L’Abbaye 2011 € 5.40 $5.92 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château L’Abbaye 2010 € 5.80 $6.36 Excellent Value ♫♫
Château Haut Canteloup 2012 € 4.70 $5.15 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Haut Canteloup 2012 Cuvée Prestige € 6.70 $7.35 Superlative Value ♫♫♫
Château Les Pierrères 2012 € 10.60 $11.63 Excellent Value ♫♫
* [This algorithm combines subjective and objective data – including scores from tastings (often multiple), prices per bottle, and others factors that may include distribution, availability, and aging potential. Value scores are relative for wines from the same region. Tastings are not blind. This listing will not include wines that fail to meet a minimum threshold value for scoring. ‘Superlative ♫♫♫’ is the highest scoring, ‘Excellent ♫♫’ the second highest, and ‘Good ♫’ is the next highest. This new system was developed and refined in early 2015.]
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VINO GRAPES (1)-page-001
In the coming weeks my book Vino Voices will be published as a paperback (as well as in the current electronic ebook form). This site will keep you updated. The new cover is shown above.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2015 2:28 PM

    Oh I look forward to seeking out some of thewe wines, Tom. The current US Euro exchange rate makes some of these a veritable bargain 🙂

    Like

    • May 6, 2015 12:17 AM

      It does indeed Chrissie! Americans should take full financial advantage of this current exchange rate and the wine purchase opportunities. Although 2009 and 2010 were stellar, I’ve stashed away all those valued bottles and am now completely in love with 2012 🙂

      I suggest a wine rendezvous soon – it’s an Easyjet flight between Bordeaux and Nice…I can arrange airport pickup and nice accommodation for you and your entourage :)…as well as wonderful wine tours of Medoc, St. Emilion, Blaye and Bourg. Regardless, I hope to visit your Riviera region again in the autumn.

      Like

      • May 6, 2015 10:51 AM

        Tom, that sounds wonderful! I’d love to visit Bordeaux with a local, can you believe I have never been before? Will have to get my planning hat on for this!

        Like

        • May 7, 2015 6:22 PM

          Indeed! VinoExpo is June 14th to 18th, but that might be too heavy-duty for a first visit. I am in Blaye, an hour outside the city. Bordeaux, and parts of Blaye, are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and very attractive. Let me know if I can help planning, and can introduce you to local winemakers (and wines 🙂 ). St. Emilion is also wonderful for a day or two to visit…a bientot!

          Like

  2. Anonymous permalink
    April 28, 2015 11:18 PM

    Looks like a good time! And I like the look of the cover!

    Like

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